6 February 2017

Kenyan Court Finds Criminal Libel Laws Unconstitutional

New York — Today's ruling by Kenya's High Court that the country's criminal defamation law is unconstitutional is a welcome step toward safeguarding press freedom and free speech, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Justice JM Mativo ruled that section 194 of Kenya's penal code is incompatible with the country's constitution and presents an unjustifiable limitation on Kenyans' freedom of expression, according to media reports.

"Today's ruling from Kenya's High Court is an important victory in the fight to protect media freedom," CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said. "We call on the government not to contest the ruling and to amend the penal code to safeguard press freedom."

The court found the law - which imposes penalties of up to two years in prison for defamation - unnecessary, excessive, and unjustifiable in an open and democratic society, and that the law creates a disproportionate limit on freedom of expression, the advocacy group Article 19, one of the parties that petitioned the court, said in a statement.

The ruling was in concert with a 2010 resolution from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights calling on member states to repeal criminal libel laws, calling them "a serious interference with freedom of expression."

Kenya

Obama's Power Africa Initiative Falling Short of Goal

A new report on Barack Obama's main legacy project for Africa shows it is falling short of his original goal of bringing… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.